- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 12, 2006

Some of fall’s top fashion trends are trickling down — way down — to children’s clothes.

When children go back to school, they likely will be wearing darker denim, gauchos, long shorts and skinny pants just like their teenage siblings and even their parents. Family-style fashion continues with rugby stripes, layers and novelty hosiery.

A bit of the bohemian look remains in some of the open-weave sweaters, patchwork, pop-art prints and embroidery, but students largely will look like students in traditional preppy and collegiate styles.

Manufacturers and retailers are splashing their names or catchphrases across sweat shirts and long-sleeve T-shirts as if students attended Fashion University. Rugbies have gone wild, too, with stripes in every color of the rainbow and varying widths.

Short kilt skirts are a standard for schoolgirls, but the palette has been expanded to include pink, aqua blue and purple in addition to the standard navy, red and green. Talbots Kids and Britain-based Mini Boden have tweaked animal prints, using bright, child-friendly colors, and the Children’s Place has handkerchief-hem and tiered skirts galore.

Picking up on one of the season’s biggest style shifts, girls’ garments are playing with proportion. They include loose empire-waist tunics to wear over pants, shrunken hoodie jackets that barely cover the ribs, and flowing gauchos to wear with boots.

Jeans remain popular as ever with girls and boys, although the washes are getting darker, the fabric softer, and the holes on the knees are there on purpose.

Boys also still love their cargo pants.

“Cargo pants have really become a basic for boys, and the reason comes down to one simple concept — pockets. Cargo pants have a carefree, rugged appeal to them, but it’s those roomy, accessible pockets that have made them a favorite style among boys of all ages,” says Talbots fashion spokeswoman Betsy Thompson. “Cargo pants were once considered a ‘fashion’ item for boys, but their utilitarian, highly practical roots have given them proven longevity.”

Cargo pants even carry over to older teens, with a difference. While younger children will pair them with traditional collegiate tops, the overall look for college students will be more rock ‘n’ roll, blending bits of punk, grunge and 1980s cheese.

Even leg warmers have a place on the ankles of girls wearing skinny jeans and ballet flats, says LeAnn Nealz, chief design officer for American Eagle Outfitters. Those girls also might be wearing fleece “Flashdance-style” sweat shirts to complete the look.

“The ‘80s are huge right now. It’s more fullness on top with slimmer shapes on the bottom. It’s all new for kids today,” Miss Nealz says.

Also from the ‘80s: leggings — leggings under skirts, leggings under short shorts.

Shorts for fall are very big news, Miss Nealz notes. “It’s a huge trend for boys and girls — short shorts, Bermuda shorts, pedal pushers. They’re even being shown in winter collections. They lend themselves to August, but you can put a pair of leggings underneath them as it gets colder.”

Just as teenage girls are moving from boot-cut jeans to tapered ones, teen boys’ jeans also will have a slimmer leg, she says.

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